Should Latin America End the War on Drugs?

Should it? That’s the question asked in today’s ‘Room for Debate’ over at the New York Times. Well, depends. Only if it does not want to persist in its present commitment to the expensive, counterproductive and catastrophic-to-civil-liberties course of action that the United States is currently pursuing. The real question–as most would acknowledge–is not whetherContinue reading “Should Latin America End the War on Drugs?”

The Problem with Nuclear Non-Proliferation

In ‘Who’s In, Who’s Out‘, (London Review of Books, 23 February 2012, Vol 34, No.4, pp 37-38), Campbell Craig and Jan Ruzicka provide us an important indictment of the so-called ‘non-proliferation complex’, which is, [A] loose conglomeration of academic programmes, think tanks, NGOs, charitable foundations and government departments, all formally dedicated to the reduction ofContinue reading “The Problem with Nuclear Non-Proliferation”

Getting the Living and the Dead Wrong: Mistaken Censuses and Transient Fame

Sometimes I find that someone I had counted among the living has passed away a while ago.  After the initial easy-to-understand embarrassment—for I have revealed my lack of knowledge of the world of the living after all–I often feel an absurd personal regret of the No-it-cannot-be-I-hardly-knew-ye variety. The regret is mostly absurd because the departedContinue reading “Getting the Living and the Dead Wrong: Mistaken Censuses and Transient Fame”

‘Swiping in’ a Vet on Memorial Day

Every New York City subway rider, at some point or the other in his riding career, becomes the ‘target’ of a solicitation, a beg, or a panhandle. And all around us, signs–put up by the MTA–tell us: don’t indulge them, don’t give; if you really want to, there are plenty of charities that would beContinue reading “‘Swiping in’ a Vet on Memorial Day”

Customer Relations in the Modern University

Satadru Sen has posted an interesting piece on his experiences teaching history at Queens College in CUNY. (I highly recommend Satadru’s blog; every single essay on there is literate and thoughtful.)  Because I wrote recently on completing ten years of teaching at Brooklyn College–and what I’ve learned from it— I thought I’d offer some thoughtsContinue reading “Customer Relations in the Modern University”

The Autumn as Inducer of Childhood Remembrances

In ‘The Innocent,’ one of the twenty-one short stories in Graham Greene‘s Twenty-One Stories (Penguin, 1970), the narrator of the tale notes, On an autumn evening, one remembers more of childhood than at any other time of year… Our hero is correct. Or at least, this rings true to me. Why might that be? Our story-tellerContinue reading “The Autumn as Inducer of Childhood Remembrances”

Geertz, Trilling and Fussell on the Transformation of the Moral Imagination

In ‘Found in Translation: Social History of Moral Imagination’, (from Local Knowledge: Essays in Interpretive Anthropology, Basic Books, New York, 1983, pp 44-45), Clifford Geertz writes, Whatever use the imagination productions of other peoples–predecessors, ancestors, or distant cousins–can have for our moral lives, then, it cannot be to simplify them. The image of the past (orContinue reading “Geertz, Trilling and Fussell on the Transformation of the Moral Imagination”

Leave the Sports Fans Alone, Go Get the Protesters

In writing on Quebec’s heavy-handed crackdown on the continuing student protests (“Our Not So Friendly Northern Neighbor”, International Herald Tribune, May 23 2012), Laurence Bherer and Pascale Dufour note the generally well-behaved demeanor of the protesters: Since the beginning of the student strike, leaders have told protesters to avoid violence. Protesters even condemned the small minority of troublemakers whoContinue reading “Leave the Sports Fans Alone, Go Get the Protesters”

Taylorism and the Doctor’s Office

From this vantage, distant point in my life, childhood meetings with doctors, whether at home–they still made house calls–or whether in the doctor’s clinic, appear as encounters with quasi-avuncular figures, benevolent, mostly-solicitous contacts with a wise, ostensibly caring person. I experienced my share of childhood illnesses, suffered from minor ailments, and almost always looked forwardContinue reading “Taylorism and the Doctor’s Office”

The Scandal of Closed Access to Taxpayer Funded Research

On January 21, Timothy Gowers of Cambridge announced he would no longer publish papers in Elsevier’s journals or serve as a referee or editor for them. This boycott has now been joined by thousands of other researchers. (I don’t referee any more for Elsevier, though I have in the past, and I certainly won’t be sending any papersContinue reading “The Scandal of Closed Access to Taxpayer Funded Research”